#JeSuisCharlie: Asia-Pacific media unions unite in condemning brutal attack in France

Media unions and press freedom groups from across the Asia-Pacific today joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in a regional show of solidarity and joint condemnation of the horrific attack that took the lives of 10 media workers in France this week.

Around the world, the IFJ’s global network has reacted strongly to the massacre at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, with vigils and public rallies happening across the region.

Today, in their messages of support, Asia-Pacific journalists and their trade unions  condemned the outrageous attack and gave support to their French colleagues. Their messages reinforce the need for media to stand together against the threats and killings that seek to intimidate journalists and destroy freedom of expression and democracy around the world.

The IFJ Asia-Pacific acting director, Jane Worthington, said: “We stand together with heavy hearts to offer our condolences to our brave French colleagues and their families who are suffering so terribly right now. This intolerable attack is a violent reminder of the challenges that journalists across the globe face every day in doing their jobs.”

On January 7 at 11.30am, two armed men stormed the offices of French magazine, Charlie Hebdo and killed 10 staff, 2 police officers and injured 11 others. The gunmen then fled the scene and remain-at-large. A third suspect has since handed himself into police.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly, renowned for its controversial cartoons and commentary on current affairs. The magazine was most recently attacked in 2011. The editor, Stephane Charbonnier, who was among those killed in the attack, was under police protection following a number of threats against his life. In 2011, Charbonnier said in response to the threats: “I would rather die standing than live on my knees.”

The attack in France has come as a stark reminder of the challenges that journalists face across the world. On the same day that 10 media workers were killed in France, the first Asia Pacific journalist was also murdered. Nerlita Ledesma, a 48-year-old journalist from Bataan in the central Philippines was shot multiple times as she waited for a ride to work.

Jane Worthington said: “The Asia-Pacific is the deadliest region in the world for journalists and our colleagues here are acutely aware of that reality. But what is clear is that we will not be silenced through fear. We continue to fight for the right to freedom of expression. Journalists will continue to defend that right every day. Today and every day forward we are all Charlie Hebdo.”   

The latest IFJ reports show 2015 is continuing on from a dire year for journalist killings. In 2014, 118 journalists across the world were murdered. An increase of 13 from the previous year, and the Asia Pacific region topped the global list with 35 murders. Pakistan is the most dangerous country globally, with 14 journalist killed in 2014. 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific